News From Terre Haute, Indiana


February 15, 2012

Doudna Stage Production examines Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Epic clash of ideas and oratory recreated in The Rivalry on Feb. 21

CHARLESTON, ILL. — The issues that divided our country more than 150 years ago will be brought to life during the LA Theatre Works production of The Rivalry at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. The performance will take place in the Doudna Fine Art Center Theatre.

Based upon Norman Corwin’s book “The Rivalry,” the staged production is a riveting recreation of the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln Stephen Douglas. The actors on stage will be using dialogue from the original debate transcripts to bring to life the fierce competition between the future president and the incumbent senator as they tackled the day’s most controversial issues – slavery and the American concept of freedom.

“This production is very relevant for today’s audience since our country is currently in the midst of the presidential debates,” said Dan Crews, patron services director of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.  “But unlike today, Lincoln and Douglas didn’t have access to television, bloggers, and podcasts.” The debates were witnessed by thousands of people with written reports transported by railroad and telegraph across the country. Although the debates were part of a local political race, the Illinois debates became the focus of a divided country that was rapidly heading towards Civil War. “It was an epic clash of ideas and oratory,” Crews added.

The Rivalry raises difficult questions of values and rights that are still being debates and remain unresolved at every level of American government and society: race, social and economic inequity, states’ rights and the “proper” role of the federal government in the lives of its citizens.

For those not familiar with the Lincoln-Douglas Debates an educational display on loan from the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum in Charleston is currently in the Doudna concourse. Chronicling all the debates that took place across Illinois in 1858 the display will be up through Feb. 21. The display is on loan courtesy of the City of Charleston and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum.  

The Rivalry will take place Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Theatre.  Tickets are $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors (62+), and $7 for students and can be purchased online at www.eiu.eiu/doudna or at the Doudna Box Office. Box Office hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11:20 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 11:30 to 2:30 p.m., and one hour before showtime.  Convenient parking is located near the fine arts center. Handicapped accessible parking is also available near the main entrance. For more information call the Doudna Fine Arts Center at (217) 581-3110 or email

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    March 12, 2010